In Twenty20 cricket, well begun is half done more often than not. While India start tournament favourites, they will be wary of New Zealand’s reputation for fighting with their backs to the wall in the opening Super 10 Group 2 game.
Here’s a look at the factors that Team India need to focus on in order to defeat in the Kiwis in the WT20 opener.
Get the sting out of Kane
While the New Zealand team packs a punch with many power-hitters --- Corey Anderson and Colin Munroe to name just a couple, the man India need to get early will be new captain Kane Williamson. In a way, Williamson is more important to the Kiwis than his predecessor Brendon McCullum was. That’s because he can anchor the innings and all the power-hitters can play around him. India may want to get rid of Ross Taylor equally urgently to kill any chances of someone holding the innings.
Seam’s too much
Lacking a quality spinner in their side, New Zealand bowlers’ best chance would be to make early dents in Indian batting. Their bowlers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee are fully capable of making early inroads by swinging the new ball. If India manage to ward off that early challenge, then they can make merry. Otherwise, they will have to face early pressure.
Avoid ‘flying’ Kiwis
While Indian fielding has improved over the years, there is no doubt that New Zealand are the easily best fielding side in the world. Anything airborne is never out of reach. So Indian batsmen may have to be smart enough to find gaps or hit the ball all the way. Virat Kohli is the best at doing it and his approach will be the key.
History with them
While New Zealand’s record in World T20 is so poor that only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have fewer victories than them at the biennial event, they have a perfect record against India in T20 International cricket. They’ve won all the four matches they have played against India, including in India as well. The Kiwis beat India in the only WT20 encounter between the two, in Johannesburg in 2007. History will boost New Zealand and India will have to screen off that bit.
Try spin early
Any team travelling to India has trouble facing spin. The Kiwis won’t be any different. If anything, they could be more susceptible than others. India have a battery of spinners which can exploit Nagpur’s dry wicket and Dhoni may look to bring them on early, to take the pace off the ball and also bamboozle the batsmen if their is turn.